When the ‘room-mance’ comes to an end



(Photo by Ryan Hueglin)

Often new roommate arrangements enjoy an early “honeymoon” phase; early in the semester people can get along and generally have a good time.  However, this phase does not last forever, and there are two major sources of tension, which can make or break your roommate relationships.

The roommate “honeymoon” phase describes when all the good times begin: a fresh start with new people can represent a whole new world of possibilities

Regardless of expectations, you all start out with in the best position for making new friends and getting along with each other all year long.  For new students, the thrill of O-Week is contagious, and with no classes to worry about, almost everyone is ready for a party.     Reality sets in soon after; this “party-mode” cannot last forever. When responsibilities become apparent, the main catalyst for tension is revealed: the balance between professional and social life.

Everyone who has lived in residence remembers the roommate questionnaire, an important part of which involved questions about your academic and social priorities. Some people want to live in a space that is conducive for quiet study, while others would prefer to use it primarily as a springboard for social growth. Apart from our unique preferences, living with roommates necessitates compromise. The most important compromise  that you will have to make with your roommates involves respect for their boundaries and expectations about the shared living space.

As much as you might want your home to be the perfect place for weekend parties, you need to be willing to provide an appropriate environment for work and school. Getting the most out of your university experience requires a balance between these social and professional aspects of student life.  The best way to forge positive relationships with your roommates is to help each other on this path of personal growth in both areas.

The values we assign to social and academic life differ from person to person for a host of reasons, but these differences need not be the source of tension amongst roommates.  Now is the time, early on in the year, for setting ground rules that meet all of your needs.  In the course of such a discussion, deal-breakers are certain to come up; hopefully most of them will not come as a surprise. Otherwise, you may want to question why you chose certain roommates in the first place.

Once everyone has stated and agreed upon deal-breakers, such as the division of chore duties, they should understand that they take full responsibility for any breaches of behaviour.  This should facilitate a long and happy relationship with your new roommates.

However, if they will not compromise with repeated warnings and sincere debate, you might want to re-think your current living arrangements.

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